Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Rupp: Tom Wilson and NHL need reform

October 03, 2018 - 1:28 pm

By Ben Krimmel

Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson will need to change the way he plays hockey, but the league must also address the other side of big hits, the NHL Network's Mike Rupp told The Sports Junkies.

"I'm a huge Tom Wilson fan, I love the way he plays the game. I think that he's very valuable," Rupp said Wednesday. "And in the hockey world, sometimes, people like to jump on those kind of players, especially the way the league is going, but he's fantastic."

"The one thing I will say, though, is that hit (on Oskar Sundqvist) is exactly the hit (the league) is trying to get rid of," Rupp said. "But I think Tom's biggest problem is... those hits used to be OK and they're not now."

In Rupp's opinion, the nature of Wilson's "unsuspecting hits" are getting him in trouble with the NHL more so than the physicality.

"His biggest struggle is that he kind of preys upon the player that already is covered," Rupp said, arguing opponents aren't expecting to be hit from a different direction when already engaged with another Caps player.

"Coming in from left field to hit a guy that's already covered is what they really want to take away from his game," Rupp said. "He'll definitely be punished for this hit, and quite frankly, I think he should."

However, Rupp said the league and the players must do more to protect themselves from situations that put themselves at risk. 

"But there has to be an onus on players putting themselves in horrible positions and Oskar Sundqvist did that. I mean, that's Hockey 101," Rupp said. "The hit was not good, but this stuff will never change unless you address both sides."

"There is this unawareness of these young players coming up now where you expect the game to protect you, (but) you are still playing a very physical game. You can't rely on the rules completely," Rupp said. "I don't cross the street assuming that the drivers are going to make the right decision. You gotta look still, both ways. I think both sides need to be addressed." 

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